On Kissing

by f

It seems to me that too many people are focused on sex and not enough on the things that lead up to the moment. Women’s rags in general (I’m lookin’ at you, Cosmo & Glamour!) talk a lot about fucking. Ten ways to pleasure your man in bed, they say. Fire up his erogenous zones! I’m not sure about my man’s erogenous zones, and, as Cracked.com will tell you, if you take any of those magazines seriously, you’ll just end up ripping off someone’s dick.

What nobody tells you is that bad kissing is as lethal to a relationship as is bad fucking. And, often, it’s a pretty good indication of the quality of what’s to come. An insensitive kisser won’t take your needs into consideration once pants are left to hang by the bed. I wish the goddamn rags would talk about kissing.

When my boyfriend kissed me for the first time, it was probably the second or third kiss on the lips he’d given to anyone. (Kiss number one and possibly two went to some chick in his tenth grade class.) We were sitting on a bench in the dead of night facing the Hudson in a place now known as the West Harlem Piers Park. It was a simple kiss on the lips. The first thing I said to him after that was “no”. Not because his kissing was bad, per se, but because of other horrible things at the time, and I hadn’t slept for ages and it just wasn’t a good moment. Besides, I wasn’t thinking about his ability to kiss at the time. Big mistake. Weeks after that fateful beginning, my hormones became activated and we started to make out like the horny rabbits we were. Only then did I realize the terrible truth.

My boyfriend was a terrible kisser. He slobbered in my mouth. I dreaded kissing him.

I know it’s unfair to draw past comparisons but in the beginning I couldn’t help it. Teaneck DJ, the hottest guy I’d ever dated, was a phenomenal kisser. If there was a Nobel Prize for kissing, he’d get it. All of the romantic and descriptive powers of the perfect kiss was embodied in this man. We’d make behind the old strip malls at the OTR for hours. His lips were always ready. They were molded to fit mine, and he’d initiate, but he’d initiate so closely it was like he read the pressure sensors in my mind, moving exactly when I did, tenderly and aggressively by turns, until it wasn’t clear who led whom.

So kissing B was a little difficult. In the beginning when we had absolutely no privacy, it was difficult to find places to make out. We became so desperate that we used to make out in the airport monorail. It got tedious. I watched myself making out with him in the mirror across from me and saw that I was being kissed by a human vacuum. As someone who valued my oxygen, I knew this had to stop.

I sat him down the next morning at our favorite bagel haunt and said something along the lines of Listen, you’re terrific, but you make me miserable.

To his credit, he listened.

I told him that I liked it when he kissed me (softly) on the lips. The Frenching would require tons of practice. I was tired of feeling like we were reenacting battles on the bloodsoaked field of Kurukshetra whenever we kissed. The tongues had to stop fighting.

We stopped french-kissing for a long time afterward. Instead, we focused on the compatibility of our lips. It started to get really good because I stopped worrying that he was going to spit into my mouth. The tongues took a long time to get re-acquainted with one another, but like all good things in life, it came with a bit of practice. I needed to make it a natural extension of the more chaste kind of kissing. I told him what bothered me. The progression was important. Too much tongue was overwhelming. And whenever it got too ferocious, I pulled away. It worked; he associated the pulling back with the too-much-tongue part. I could tell that gradually improving our technique made it more enjoyable for him as well. It didn’t make sense that I should put up with substandard kissing, but I knew that a small part of him resented the fact that I had more experience than he did.

*

I’m writing about this because the girls and I got together this evening and the subject jumped to kissing during some point of the conversation. Q (the friend whose current relationship with E marks a significant break from her typical dominant-male suitor), told me that her latest made his move on her in a way that marked him from the rest; he kissed her softly and made no demands on her after two minutes of absolute tenderness at a time. She concluded from this that he had not only experience but restraint. She didn’t know what to make of either. She recalled feeling little attraction but beyond that she knew she was safe; it was an all-encompassing sensation that felt good and left her bewildered afterward. If kissing told one about the sex to come after, what did this mean?

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